Musicians make their own social networking sites

50 Cent, everyone’s (not) favourite “hip hop” artist is actually taking the lead in something.

He’s joined an increasing number of musicians who have decided that MySpace is no longer good enough for them and their legions of “fans”.

As we speak, social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace (and even some competitors like Google’s Orkut or Yahoo!’s Bebo) are getting more and more visitors and profiles.

Nielsen, the venerable ratings company, has a web-ratings arm, and a report they’ve published shows a 47% growth year over year.

The sheer fact that 1 in 4 Canadians are on Facebook alone suggests that there is a pretty big market for services like this. So I completely understand why these artists want to have control over these potential consumers. On their own sites, artists can feel free to spam away with announcements for new tours/albums/video games or anything else they can dream of. Most of these other social networking websites don’t allow artists to track information about their fans either. However, your personal information may not be as safe on one of these artist-run sites. Not to allege any impropriety, but even with control over your email address, I wouldn’t be surprised if you start getting emails about these new releases and whatnot.

Plus, on these sites all the ads can be for related music and merchandise. So on the Kylie Minogue site, you’ll be faced with Kylie ringtones, t-shirts, cds, downloads, posters, ribbons etc etc etc. Think about the joy that could bring to your life.

Although they admit that these websites are not meant to “replace” the big names, I think that has more to do with the fact that they simply can’t. They’ll never match the broader and more welcoming appeal of the main sites. Frankly, I don’t think 50 Cent is going to find 57 million people who like his music that much.

But hey, it’s cheap as hell to set up one of these sites, so why not? Even if a couple of thousand fans get together and talk about you, that’s a step forward in a cheap marketing ploy. So kudos to them for coming up with a new sort of marketing strategy and at least tentatively (in the “dipping your toe into the pool to see how cold it is” sort of way) embracing the internet.

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